Heart of Glass - Blenko Glass

Blenko Glass is a West Virginia treasure that spans generations. Nothing symbolizes the state of West Virginia better or more beautifully than Blenko Glass. We will discuss current and former craftsmen and designers and how important it is that Blenko and West Virginia glass be appreciated and valued by the younger generation.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Collectable Blenko

iWe keep getting emails - about what to collect. What's special. What BLENKO is best? There are not simple answers to these questions. My mentor says "collect only what you love...as the value may never change". Personally, I try not to buy anything I don't want to live with - - but then I have limited space. Becoming knowledgeable about the item you collect is probably the best advice. Go to the library, find other 'knowledgeable collectors' or visit glass collections. Attached is a photo of glass designed for BLENKO by Winslow Anderson. If I found any one of the items in this photo - I would definitely purchase that item. Note: This photo was provided to the blenko project www.blenkoproject.org by Damon Crain. Mr. Crain is a photographer, a fine arts expert, an officer of The Blenko Museum. Mr. Crain often writes about Blenko and American Glass. He is a contributing advisor for The West Virginia Museum of American Glass. This photo contains a few pieces of glass designed by Winslow Anderson (Blenko's first designer). Mr. Anderson's designs are highly collectable.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Blenko Designers - John Nickerson (#2 in a series of 6)

Blenko Designers
John Nickerson, 1970-1974 (years at Blenko)
John Nickerson was named a 2006 Niche Award finalist for Dancing Ungulae and Hinged-Lid Ritual Vessel. The Niche Awards recognize outstanding creative achievements of American The following examples of John Nickerson's current work can be seen at www.blenkoproject.org. Dancing Ungulae
Hinged-Lid Ritual Vessel

Listening Post
Sailing with Don Quixot

Examples of Nickerson's work at BLENKO can be found on many Blenko inspired web sites. At Blenko Nickerson focused on functional designs that could be mass produced. His current body of work is more reflective of his personal unique ability to combine vivid color with architectural form. No two pieces are exactly the same.
Nickerson's one of a kind, glass sculptures are not only artistic but affordable, and are classic and pure enough to work well in any home.
Also visit http://www.nickersonglassworks.com/

Blenko Designers - Wayne Husted

During the next few months - I'll do one or more post on the six most well known BLenko Designers - Winslow Anderson (the first, the most classic, and one of my favorite), Joel Philip Myers . Wayne Husted (the subject of today's post), Don Shepperd, John Nickerson, and Hank Adams.
Wayne Husted, 1952-1963 (years at Blenko)
Wayne Husted was the most prolific Blenko designer and is often credited as the most talented and popular of the Blenko designers. An article in the April 2004 edition of the respected Journal of Antiques and Collectibles says Husted was "both a maverick and an innovator who cemented Blenko's place in glass history."
At an average of at least 60 designs a year during his ten years with Blenko, Husted created over 600 designs. Husted designed two other groups for Blenko . Olana is the name for a group of eight designs he created for Blenko in 2001, while he was back in West Virginia for the first time in forty-one years. Husted created a plethora of pieces when he returned after so many years, but his official reason for returning was to be interviewed for Blenko's video "Blenko Retro: The Story of Three Designers," made for public television. In 2004, he designed a series of twelve waterbottles "Varations". This was a limited number (less than 50) and each piece was signed by Husted and Blenko President Richard Blenko. Examples of Husted work can be seen on the BLENKO PROJECT webpage and the Blenko Collectors page www.blenkoproject.org This information was taken from THE BLENKO PROJECT

Saturday, October 21, 2006


The Appalachian Glass Company in Weston, West Virginia organized and hosted a three day event to honor retired West Virginia Glass Workers. We went down today, there was a crowd that varied between 75 and 110 people through out the day - more than 26 men from various glass plants all proudly spoke of the number of years they worked, and their jobs. Many retired for more than 15 years. Many over the age of 70. It was a very good day. My only regret was I didn't have a tape recorder and also that no one from the State Cultural Department was there to do ORAL HISTORIES - this history, of the glass worker is going to be lost.
The Glass Festival continues Sunday (tomorrow) so if you are reading this please plan to make the drive up I-79 to Exit 99 WESTON turn right go about l/10 of a mile and you'll see the signs GLASS FESTIVAL - its free, food is available. Demonstrations of glass etching, glass blowing, glass making are free.
Representatives from MARBLE KING of Paden City were there and if you didn't know how to shoot - lessons were available, contest were held....prizes were given. Marbles were being sold. Beautiful handcrafted marbles.
Did I mention GLass was being sold? Yes, not BLENKO GLASS but glass from many WV Factories that are no longer in business and also glass made by Ron Hinkle and Appalachian Glass was for sale. Both Appalachian and Ron Hinkle did demonstrations of how they make different items - I think these demonstrations will continue on Sunday.
I'll have photos of this event - and IF I can get the upload to work I'll add them to the blog.
Shorty Finley - Blenko retired Glass worker and artist was in attendance on Saturday.
If you don't make the Glass Festival or you are reading this after Sunday but you drive I -79 stop in at Weston Appalachian Glass they are open daily 10 -5
and visit - the gift shop is awesome...and you can watch the glass being as you shop.
I noticed they have many many Christmas ornaments in more than two dozen different colors - the largest selection of handblown glass ornaments I've seen in a West Virginia shop.
Remember to Buy Glass made in West Virginia!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Glass Festival in Weston, W. Va.

Glass Festival

You are cordially invited to come and enjoy the:
First Glass Fest
to be held in Weston, WV once the handblown glass capital of the world.
October 20-22, 2006Friday Oct. 20th - Noon - 6:00 p.m.Saturday Oct. 21st - 9 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.Sunday Oct. 22nd- 11 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
A dozen or more heritage glass artisans will be demonstrating their particular specialty throughout the weekend. Visitors will see the fine art of:Glass etching and engraving Glassblowing
Glass cutting
Glass sand carving
Friday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. West Virginia music artisans, Steve Peters and Donnie Detamore will perform.
The West Virginia Marble Association will conduct their state Marble Shooters Association qualifier sponsored by Marble King on Saturday afternoon. Participants in the qualifier from ages 7 to 14 are free and those 15 and above are $5.00. All proceeds will go to the West Virginia American Marble Association Scholarship Fund.On Saturday afternoon, all current and former West Virginia glass workers are invited to a gathering during the Fest.
*Food vendors will be available on site.* WHAW will be broadcasting live on Saturday afternoon.
Come and enjoy the fun!
This event will be held at Appalachian Glass Complex in Weston, WV. For more information call the Lewis County CVB @ (304) 269-7328 or www.stonewallcountry.com I plan to be there, I know several people from the Morgantown, Pittsburgh area who will be making the drive down, and its my understanding my good friend Everette "Shorty" Finley - retired Blenko craftsman will be there on Saturday. Anytime you get the chance to see these gentlemen working - believe me its worth the drive. We stopped at the Applalachain Glass Complex last month and were warmly welcomed by the family (another blog soon will have photos - you may have noticed I have trouble uploading photos- and its sad - as WV GLass photographs like no other. If you do come to Weston please come over and say Hello to us.
If you have questions phone or write the:
Lewis County Convention& Visitors Bureau 499 US Hwy 33 East Suite 102 Weston, WV 26452 304-269-7328

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

:The New Look of the Visitors Center

This lovely photo of Blenko Glass Company Visitor Center was taken in 2006 by Laura Moul. The photo doesn't show the beautiful five acre lake, the glass garden, or the pastoral setting. You must come to Blenko, plan to spend the day, shopping in the VC, and the local gift and antique stores then have lunch at Granny K's or one of the other locally owned restaurants. Blenko is a 'magical place' bring your children, let them see the glass being made. The process is fascinating. Take home glass for gifts, and if you forgot your camera or if like me your camera somehow eliminates heads you might want to select some of Laura Moul's professional photo notecards as a way to remember your day. These cards enhance any gift of glass - - consider including a 'special Blenko note card' with your next gift of Blenko glass.
I like Laura's photographs of Blenko so much, I now have a couple 8 x 10s framed and on display with my glass. The photos are often topic of conversation when people first visit my place.
If you haven't been to Blenko Glass Factory, you must go, the Holiday Sales are beginning.

Happy Shopping!

Note:Laura Moul, Master Photographer, PPA Certified has original photo notecards and Blenko paperweights for sale featuring Blenko artisans/craftsmen at work creating handblown glass--These are in Blenko's Visitor Center.

The Great Pumpkins of Milton - Glass of Course 10/31/06

Milton is well known for its Pumpkin Festival and its a West Virginia tradition to decorate for fall with pumpkins. They are everywhere.
Martha Stewart is asking folks to send in there favorite pumpkin photos.I sent Martha three photos - My favorite pumpkin photos are of GLASS PUMPKINS.

f you haven't been to the BLENKO GLASS Visitor center and Gift Shop now is a great time to go. The pumpkins are on sale. There is also a 'neat' display of pumpkin yard art, and inside the VC you'll find pumpkins of all colors and sizes. You don't know this - - but I am a very frugal person. This frugality and my love of BLENKO lead to and my thinking about glass ie BLENKO pumpkins buying. The thought process goes likes this - a glass pumpkin is about $22 and a fresh pumpkin is $12 - $20. . . . But with care the glass pumpkin will last a life time. Therefore I am saving lots of money. I still buy the occasional real pumpkin. There is one on my front porch as I write this. I enjoy carving jack - 0-laterns and those traditions as much as the next 22 year old, but I also like buying Blenko Pumpkins (each year the pumpkins change just a bit) and enjoy unwrapping them and remembering the selection process and the year they were purchased.

Last week a 'surprise' package arrived with a glass pumpkin from Osburn Modern Glass . It's a sheer orange fluorescent Pumpkin -designed and made by Dave Osborn. Osburn was for over 30 years a Blenko employee, he retired an opened a small hand crafted glass studio in Milton just up the road from Blenko.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Glass Mobiles

The Blenko Glass Company in Milton, West Virginia is known all over America for its beautiful decorative accessories.

One item not found in the catalogue, but very lovely, and quiet decorative is the Glass Mobiles created by Charlie Harshbarger. Charlie's official title at Blenko, is inspector of glass. However, he does many other things. He makes (assembles) most all the Blenko lamps, and he creates Glass Mobiles.

The Mobiles are 'special order' only and Charlie will make them in most any color the customer wants. I am attaching photos of two mobiles Charlie made for our family. One is a WVU Mobile - all blue and gold colors. The other is a mobile of purple, ruby, and cobalt which hangs in the living room of my parents home in Charleston, West Virginia.

The cost of the mobile is between $150 and $200 depending on glass color and size of the mobile.

Plan to wait between three and five weeks for delivery of your glass mobile.

note: Charlie Harshbarger will be the featured employee in a future Blog.

Does my damaged/broken BLENKO have value?

Several people have emailed with the question about damaged (chip, crack, small defects) glass, does it have any value?
My expertise in this is limited - so I asked friends and did some research. The WV Museum of American Glass produces a quarterly magazine. If you have thoughts of collecting WV glass joining this group should be on your short list of things to do as the magazine is inexpensive and full of interesting photos and articles about WV Glass.
In 2004, a writer for this publication wrote: 'Although glass collectors of American mass -produced patterns ( BLENKO*) have every right to seek out perfect pieces for their collections, we must keep in mind that there are pieces of glass in most patterns or areas of collecting that are very hard to find. Either the number of theses pieces is quite limited or the collector demand is high- or both! In both cases it is wise not to turn down a piece offered with minor damage because the collector may never come across this rare piece again. Another point to consider is that "glass from the past" is getting older and older. Most of our collectible glass was made for utilitarian purposes so that many decades of use will take its toll-from small chips or scratches to large missing sections on a piece of glass. It's becoming harder to find glass in pristine condition that was made many years ago, so if the price is right, and the desirable piece of collectible glass will display perfectly, don't pass up the opportunity to own a rare piece of American history.'
I have two pieces of broken/ damaged Blenko glass, one that was purchased for me and cost over $500, its rare and brings me pleasure even with the damage - the other is a Blenko Cat, my dog 'MIS B' knocked it over and broke the teal body. I kept the cat's head, because its too beautiful to discard, perhaps someday I'll find a teal cat body.
We have a friend who often buys broken Blenko, she displays each with the broken area hidden, her blenko changes with color scheme of each room. By buying 2nds and damaged, she is able to inexpensively change her decor often.
Blenko colors are beautiful and can add to any room setting.
If the you haven't started a Blenko collection, go to the Blenko Visitors Center in Milton, West Virginia this week. They have a selection of orange glass for the Halloween Holiday along with the usual large selection of colored tableware and lamps.
*note: (Blenko) was added to the WV Glass Museum comments.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Blenko - The People

Blenko Glass Company - William Blenko
The first Monday of each month, this Blog will focus on a Blenko employee, retiree, or designer.

Today we'll talk about BLENKO GLASS's founder Mr. William Blenko. The company's name comes from William Blenko, a British glassman who shipped glass to American stained glass studios. He came to the United States in 1893 and started a glass making business in Kokomo Indiana, producing glass for church windows and related uses.
He returned to England in 1904, and then made two more attempts to establish a factory in the United States. He used British glass workers in Point Marion, Pennsylvania, in 1909, and Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1913, but was unable to make a success of these operations.
In 1922 at the age of 68 he began a new effort in Milton, WV., and was joined by his son William H. Blenko, the following year. Seven years later at the height of the depression William H. Blenko could see he necessity of producing some other product, and secured the services of two experienced Swedish glass workers. This enabled the company to enter a new wider, and highly, promising field of handmade decorative glass. William Blenko died in 1934, but he lived to see the tide change. Mr. Blenko's spirit of "working hard for success and refusing to give up" lead to success. The decorative accessories and beautiful stained glass windows utilitzing Blenko glass are now known all over America.
Our next featured employee will be Don Lemley who currently heads the Antique Glass Department at Blenko, Mr. Lemley is also an accomplished glass artist, he teaches at Blenko and occasionally at Taylor Book Store in Charleston, W. Va.
Blenko Glass Company is located in Milton, West Virginia off I-64, stop by to visit and purchase the wonderful handcrafted glass.
This information was taken from Blenko Glass literature and THE BLENKO PROJECT website.